Deuteronomy 6:6-7

And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. ~ Deuteronomy 6:6-7

Sunday, May 31, 2020

The world seems to have turned upside down in 2020, and this week brought even more disturbance. I just can’t take any more ugliness today, so tonight, I offer up a few of my favorite memes from the week. Take a second and enjoy something lighthearted.

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Workman Publishing - A Crew Review

Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.

Way back when, in the days when I was in junior high school, computer science consisted of 40 minutes in the learning resource center, sitting in front of what are now, old-fashioned gigantic computers with the screens that had that greenish hue, typing in the most basic of instructions. It felt so modern, hee hee. Unlike today, there weren't computers in every home back then, and computer science was not necessarily touted as an important part of education. These days, our kids are tech savvy from the time they're preschoolers, and even younger! Computer science is a standard class now, and not only the norm, but integral throughout a student's studies. As such, parents and teachers have a need for curriculum and resources to teach the subject. Workman Publishing provides such help. Their book, Everything You Need to Ace Computer Science and Coding in One Big Fat Notebook , presents the basics needed to get started in this subject.

This is a sturdy book, a cross between a hard and soft cover. The content has been put together for the middle school grades, with a style that mimics the "smartest kid in the class' " notebook. The illustrations, drawn to look like a student's doodlings, are whimsical, colorful, and make the book visually appealing. There are 566 pages in the book, divided into 8 Units. They are:

Unit 1 - Computing Systems
Unit 2- Data and Analysis
Unit 3 - Software Engineering
Unit 4 - Algorithms and Programming
Unit 5 - Universal Programming Principles
Unit 6 - Programming with Scratch
Unit 7 - Programming in Python
Unit 8 - Web Development

The book's style is that of a student's notebook

Boxed in sections present material in a concise manner

Each Unit is made up of several chapters, sometimes more than several. The format of this book proves that computer science does not need to be dry and longwinded. The information is well organized, straightforward, and...interesting! A color coded system makes finding what you need, easy. Vocabulary words are highlighted in yellow. Prominent people, dates, terms, places, etc., are written in blue. Main ideas are underlined. Side notes are featured in colorful blocks. Each Unit has its own color, so if you lose your place, you can see at a glance where to go. There is plenty of information provided, but the pages are not crowded with too much text, so students won't feel overwhelmed with the content. The end of each chapter has a Check Your Knowledge section where you answer a set of questions from the lesson. An answer key for those questions is also provided.

Vocabulary words are highlighted in yellow, other important facts presented in blocks

Definitions are underlined

The title of this book declares itself to be "The Complete Guide to Middle School Study Guide". Honestly though, this is a great resource for any student, whether older child, teen, or adult, who is interested in computer science. Don't let the playful style of the book fool you into thinking that this book is less informative than a typical textbook. Who says that learning has to be boring, black and white text?

Little quizzes provided at the end of each chapter

My 14 year old freshman has been using this book, and she felt that it was still challenging enough for many high school students as well as middle schoolers. We've made it through just about 5 Units this far, only 3 to go! We'll be moving on to programming with scratch, python, and then web development. Do we like this book? Will we use it? Yes, we do, and yes we will. Our family has been a fan of this company's Everything You Need To...books, for a long time, and this is a great volume to add to the collection. Whether you have a computer newbie, or have it all down, this is a great addition to your school library.

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Everything You Need to Ace Computer Science and Coding in One Big Fat Notebook {Workman Publishing Reviews}

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Memoria Press - Second Form Latin Complete Set - A Crew Review

Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.

My daughters are teenagers now, in the 9th and 10th grades respectively. We've homeschooled from the time they were in preschool. With roughly 14 years of homeschooling under our belts, I guess you could say that we're veterans. In that stretch of time, we've tried out a fair amount of curriculum from various companies. Memoria Press easily ranks at the top of my list of favorites. We've sampled courses in a few disciplines, but I really love their Latin sets. This month, I was over the moon to have the opportunity to use and review their Second Form Latin Complete set with my girls.
Included in this set:
- Student Text
- Teacher Manual
- Student Workbook
- Quizzes and Tests
- Teacher Key - all in one key for workbook, quizzes, and tests
- Pronunciation CD - includes all vocabulary and grammar forms for every lesson
- Flashcards - includes vocabulary, Latin sayings, and grammar forms
- DVD - provides instruction for each lesson

All of the books are a sturdy softcover, with the Teacher Key in a convenient, spiral bound style.

These are the suggested ages for each set if you begin Latin from an early age:

- Prima Latina-
- Latina Christiana - grades 3-6
- First Form Latin - grades 5+
- Second Form Latin - grades 6+
- Third Form Latin - grades 7+
- Fourth Form Latin - grades 8-12

Keep in mind that the grade ranges are merely suggestions. Those with little to no Latin experience should start at the beginning. The text is geared towards the specific level without being "babyish". The material in each set builds on the previous material, so it's important to start at the place that reflects your experience.
The course can be divided into 30 weeks if using as a year long study, or if your students are older, it may be completed in one semester. As with any area of study, it depends on the student's ability.

I loved this admonition.

Second Form Latin is, you guessed it, the second step in the Memoria Press Latin courses. This set picks up where First Form Latin leaves off. Upon completion, students will be halfway through the series. In other courses that I have used from this company, the materials have been presented in an easy to follow, well organized manner, and this set is no different. There is so much included that it might seem overwhelming, but if you begin with the Teacher Manual, and read through the introductory pages, you'll quickly see that you can do this. I know that some years ago, when first using Memoria Press materials, they looked so...scholarly and serious. The text is certainly well rounded and challenging, but the writers put any anxiety to rest (mine anyway) with practical helps and tips. These include various techniques for teaching, step by step guides for presenting the material, games, and ideas for reviewing lessons. There is also help for putting together a syllabus.

The Teacher Manual walks you through every lesson.

A lesson.

Last part of the workbook portion of the lesson.

Teacher Key.

Each lesson is meant to be completed within a week's time. The course is written for a larger class, but is easily adaptable for one or two students. A typical lesson is presented like this:

- Greeting to student(s)
- Recitation - review of grammar forms. To be done at least weekly, or over a few days
- Review - vocabulary words, grammar, Latin phrases/sayings- the flashcards are great for this!
- Latin Saying- students will learn to pronounce, write, spell each saying and demonstrate the ability    to do so on the weekly quizzes.
- Vocabulary - This is a huge part of the curriculum, with mastery as the learning objective. That is,      students will learn to spell, write, pronounce when given the meaning. Recitation of each week's        vocabulary is done every day.
- Grammar - Follow the Teacher Manual and you'll be good to go. It provides the text for you to ask      and guide the students though this part of the lesson.
- Textbook Oral Drill - done at the end of the week, helps assess mastery of the material.
- Quiz

The flashcards are great. Latin on one side, English translation on the other.

The quizzes are challenging!

When we first began learning Latin my daughters weren't necessarily too excited. At first glance, it can seem intimidating. But they have come around, for the most part, hee hee. As I said, the material is more accessible than you might initially think. The DVD instruction, and the CD pronunciation are great, and implementing the practical part of the lessons is as easy as reading from the book, because, you know, that's what you're doing. I mentioned that my teens were "meh" about the subject, but they see the value in it. My oldest plans on pursuing a career somewhere in the medical field, and learning Latin will be a great help as she continues her education. My youngest, like me, loves words, and learning their origin. Latin of course, teaches just that. Of course, it's also just fun to casually brag about your growing Latin prowess, lol.

I want to add as an aside, that each student requires their own workbook. It is a consumable after all. I received the one workbook include in this set, but purchased another one, as well as an additional student text, since I'm using this with both of my daughters.
We are just over 5 weeks into this course, and we'll continue. I plan to have my daughters work through the entire series. It continues to be a fantastic part of our studies, and I would confidently recommend any of the Latin sets to families.

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Prima to Fourth Form Latin Complete Sets {Memoria Press Reviews}

Sunday, May 17, 2020


Fact 6:
Reading will get your mind off of all of the relentless Covid-19 talk! Our book list has increased. We have several new titles ready to tackle, some for school, some for fun, hopefully all enjoyable! What are you reading?

Friday, May 15, 2020

Math Essentials - A Crew Review

Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.

Math was a subject that didn't give our family too much trouble until 7th grade. That's when we hit the wall, so to speak. If you've read any of my other posts about mathematics, you already know that for the past few years, it's been an area of study that has given us more headaches than smiles. In our search for the "perfect" curriculum, it feels like we've tried them all. This last year has been better, and my 14 year old finished up the curriculum we had been using, early. I figured that since we still had time in our school year, we would keep going and continue on to the next level. As it happens, and in fantastic timing, Math Essentials provided us with a copy of No-Nonsense Algebra to use and review. 

You get a pretty good picture of this book's approach from its title. No nonsense, no fluff, no convoluted lectures. Lessons are taught by Richard W. Fisher, also known as, "America's Math Teacher". This is a durable, soft covered textbook that combines the text and workbook all in one. You could simply open it up, read the introduction, and work through the problems. Those that are already mathematically minded may prefer to use the book that way. There is an online lecture that accompanies each lesson though, and I strongly recommend using those. They are short and concise, lasting roughly 4 to 11 minutes. 
Video lessons home page

!st video lesson

These are the topics covered:
- Chapter 1- Necessary tools for Algebra
- Chapter 2 - Solving Equations
- Chapter 3 - Graphing and Analyzing Linear Equations
- Chapter 4 - Solving and Graphing Inequalities
- Chapter 5 - Systems of Linear Equations and Inequalities
- Chapter 6 - Polynomials
- Chapter 7 - Rational Expressions (Algebraic Fractions)
- Chapter 8 - Radical Expressions and Geometry
- Chapter 9 - Quadratic Equations
- Chapter 10 - Algebra Word Problems

Additionally, you'll find:

- How to Use This Book section
- Chapter reviews
- Final Exam
- Solutions to all problems
- Glossary
- Resource center

When our book arrived, my 14 year old started skimming it, and I couldn't believe when she said, "Hey, this looks pretty good." Great, I thought, at least we're beginning on a positive note. The real test (no pun intended), would come once she began the lessons. So, we started with the online lectures. It's easy to access those, all of the instructions are in the book. You'll type in the web address, and the book provides an access code. After that, you're in. The lessons are all right there, separated by chapters. Click on your current lesson, and get to it! 

Taking notes along with Mr. Fisher

Mr. Fisher writes the notes as he teaches

More notes

How many lectures have you watched, listened to, attended, whatever the manner, where you sat there while the instructor droned on and on, and you zoned out? Well, Mr. Fisher wants you to learn, and track with him while he teaches, so, he encourages you to write the problems out with him as he works through the example problems. My daughter likes that he does that, and she feels like that process helps her retain the information better. 
Here's another question for may times have you found yourself understanding the method of a math concept as the teacher provided an example problem, only to have them throw a ridiculously difficult problem in the exercises? Mr. Fisher provides both easy and difficult problems in the lessons, so you don't feel blindsided.

Ahh, square roots! Lol

Working those problems

Order of Operations

The Coordinate Plane

This class can be completed without parent help for most students, especially if they utilize the online lectures, which I strongly recommend. The book is everything that it claims to be, no-nonsense, concise, and without fluff. Now, what does my daughter think? She loves it! I'm happy and relieved to have a course that my daughter doesn't dread using.  She has completed 22 lessons in this review period, and wants to keep this as her main Math curriculum. Did you hear that? It was a sigh of contentment from me, heehee. You can pick up the book for $35.95, which includes the access to online instruction. That's very affordable! Visit the website and download sample lessons, and see what you think.

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Math Refresher for Adults
Mastering Essential Math Skills Book 2 Middle Grades/High School
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No-Nonsense Algebra, Math Refresher for Adults &  Mastering Essential Math Skills Book 2 Middle Grades/High School {Math Essentials Reviews}

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Beyond the Stick Figure Art School - A Crew Review

Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.

Art is one of those subjects that people seem to either love, or...not, lol. It can be an intimidating subject to teach though, if you lack confidence in your skills. Some of you may feel that your talent goes as far as scrawling out a stick figure. As for me, I've always enjoyed art, whether I'm admiring it, or creating a personal masterpiece. I'm far from a prodigy, but I enjoy pulling out my drawing pencils and markers, and doodling around. That being the case, I was pleased to have the opportunity to try out and review the Complete Drawing Class Plus 3 Bonus Classes from Beyond the Stick Figure Art School this month.

This is an online, self paced art program that will work for basically the entire family, beginning somewhere around age 5, depending on a child's age and ability. Topics include Drawing, Pen and Ink, Watercolors, Acrylics, and 3D Design. It has been designed for use as a daily program, to be completed in a year. You can easily adjust the schedule though, to fit your needs. The lessons are generally short, with most of the instructional videos lasting approximately one to 5 minutes. They do need to be completed in order, and then marked complete before you can move on to the next lesson.

The Drawing course is first, and is divided into 3 parts. Those that have little to zero experience in art will probably benefit the most from this first set of lessons, as it is very basic. Sally, our instructor, begins by having students observe their environment, looking for circles, dots, curved lines, squares, and more. There are then exercises that have you simply drawing those shapes in random ways. After that, you'll create a more intentional pattern using those shapes. Upon completion of each section, there is an opportunity to rate your personal effort, determining what you liked and would like to improve on in the future. These are found in little downloadable folders, along with sheets that you can use to practice drawing the various shapes. Those would be especially good to use with younger students.

Once you work through Drawing sections 1 and 2, you'll get to Pen and Ink. This is where we are right now, in the middle of Part 2. I feel like this is where there is a bit more technique being taught, and the project we've been working on is a little more, I don't know, defined, focused...You'll learn how to use crosshatching to add texture to an image. I like the effect of it, and anyone can do it. The completed project of this tree is nice, I think.

We're looking forward to getting to the Watercolors lessons, because well, we love working with watercolors. Now, what do we think of tis program? It's a great option for anyone who has little to no experience with art. The pace is slow and relaxed, and the projects are more than manageable. It would be particularly good for younger students, especially Part 1 of the Drawing course. There is a lot that you could do with small children, taking them on shape hunts. It could be a little too basic for those that have more art experience, although if you're working with the whole family, simply enjoying the process of creating art can be enjoyable, whatever your experience. With most of the world dealing with increased family time as a result of shelter in place orders relating to the pandemic, this is a great time to check out Beyond the Stick Figure Art School.

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Beyond the Stick Figure Complete Drawing Course {Beyond the Stick Figure Art School}